Skip to main content

Laurila, Kathleen Wood, 1940-



  • Existence: 1940-


J. Kathleen Ulku was born on November 28, 1940. In high school, Ulku broke the "male only" barrier in the school's drafting class. During high school she was also active in leadership roles for Future Homemakers of America (FHA). Ulku earned a B.A. from the University of Minnesota in design and journalism. While attending the University of Minnesota, she became a charter member of the first interracial sorority at the school. Ulku moved from Minneapolis to Des Moines, Iowa in 1965 after marrying Robert Wood, Jr. They raised their three children in Des Moines. Kathleen Ulku Wood earned her M.A. from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications -- Media and Public Policy, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. In addition to her academic degrees, Wood received training in grant writing and fund raising, conflict resolution, and leadership. She also became a Certified Contract Interior Designer (CCID). In 1969 Wood began her own design business, Interior Planning; adding public affairs services in 1984 she changed the business name to Creative Enterprises.

Wood's long history of activism included involvement locally, nationally and internationally in environmental causes, women's equity, peace initiatives and national security issues. Wood participated on, chaired, and organized many task forces representing her wide range of political activism. A lifetime member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Wood held numerous local and national leadership roles for the organization, including president of the Des Moines branch (1978-1980), president of the Iowa State Division (1982-1984), and International Affairs Director. (For more on Wood's paid and voluntary positions see the appendix at the end of the finding aid.)

Wood received numerous awards and honors for her activism and leadership. In 1982, she received the first Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) award as "Des Moines Woman of Achievement." In 1985, Wood received the "Women in Business Advocate Award, Des Moines" from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and in 1992, Wood was named the "Des Moines Business Woman of the Year" by the Business and Professional Women.

Following her divorce, Kathleen Wood chose the surname Laurila, a maternal family name.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Kathleen Wood Laurila papers

Identifier: IWA0458

Iowa activist involved in the peace movement as well energy conservation and environmental protection coalitions.

Dates: 1956-1999